About Nature and Sex
Tanja Selzer is one of few artists who, with powerful colours, have devoted themselves to voyeurism in the medium of painting. Her works are filled with the desire to glimpse sexual acts in nature, and with delicate textures and reflections in vegetation and incarnadine hues.
According to Tanja Selzer, pornographic films serve as her sources, but her vision is sumptuously focussed upon the brilliance of carefully arranged colour and lighting known to us already in impressionistic works à la Manet and Monet in his “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” from the second half of the nineteenth century.
They indeed suggest as much, and yet Selzer’s works are not created “en plein air” and “sur le motif,” as the impressionists demanded. The dynamic of the bodies allude to the medium of film. Often the motifs are cropped like film stills or are frozen in movement. Less is made of the exhibition of poses, the acrobatics of the bodies, and the close-ups of genitals, and more of concentration and of silent contemplation. Moreover, an important characteristic of pornography is not present. The actors do not provocatively seek the gaze of their onlookers, as the sex workers in the videos of the porno industry do. One famous example in art history exemplifies this distinction in the observational apparatus. Sex acts, represented in nature, have always been a powerful pictorial topos in painting. The frontal visual contact with Princess Leda in the painting “Leda and the Swan” (circa 1530) by Antonio da Correggio already led Louis of Orléans, the pious son of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, to feel so provoked that he cut her face out of the picture with a knife. Today you can see the restored painting at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. Since romanticism, a dark abyss was charted by the intrigues of the demonic woman, whose lust for sexual conquest was as destined to downfall as were her victims. But the aggression and confrontation are missing here.
Through the perceptible element of stillness, the works obtain an overabundance reminiscent of notions of union.
However, in the broadest sense, we see in Tanja Selzer’s works how pornography in film heralded from the outset a determined effort to forge a path, through the presentation of sex, to a mysterious essence in union with nature, which has become the basis for all that one is, and who one is.
— Heike Fuhlbrügge